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Understanding Moving Averages in Commodities Trading

With the right attitude and complete knowledge, traders can navigate the complex world of commodities trading with confidence and success

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One of the majorly practiced technical measures is the moving average. The moving average gives traders a view of the trends on which the price is moving. This, in trading commodities, filters market noise. This paper focuses on moving averages in commodities trading, the different forms of moving averages described, computing methods and strategies on how to use them efficiently.

What are Moving Averages?

A moving average is a statistical computation applied to the data points to create a series of averages of different subsets of the complete data set. Moving averages are among the tools that keep track of price trends in commodities trading over a particular period. These help traders smooth out price fluctuation and easily interpret the direction of a market. Moving averages provide essential value when correctly identifying possible trend reversals and confirming the directions of trends.

Types of Moving Averages

All these different types of moving averages in commodities trading have their advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used include:

  • Simple Moving Average (SMA): This could be viewed as the most elementary moving average that calculates the average of closing prices of a commodity for a given number of periods and divides it by the number of periods. For example, there is the 10-day SMA, equivalent to the average closing price over the previous ten days.
  • Exponential Moving Average (EMA): Compared to SMA, EMA gives more weight to the most recent prices because of the inclusion of smoothing factors. The formula for calculating EMA is a bit more complicated than the one used for calculating smoothing factors.
  • Weighted Moving Average (WMA): In WMA, the data points have different weights. It is usual to place the most significant weight on recent prices. This technique is helpful for a trader who wants to give more importance to recent price movements.

Calculating Moving Averages

The type of moving average that is employed will dictate exactly how it is calculated. To compute a 10-day SMA, you would add the closing prices of the commodity for the past ten days, then simply divide by 10. The EMA formula is much more complicated than any of the other averages. A 10-day EMA would look like this:

EMAtoday=(Pricetoday×(2/(N+1)))+(EMAyesterday×(1−(2/(N+1))))EMA_{today} = (Price_{today} \times (2 / (N + 1))) + (EMA_{yesterday} \times (1 – (2 / (N + 1))))EMAtoday​=(Pricetoday​×(2/(N+1)))+(EMAyesterday​×(1−(2/(N+1))))

Where NNN is the number of time periods (10 in this example).

Applying Moving Averages in Commodities Trading

There are several popular ways to apply the moving averages to commodities trading effectively:

  1. Identification of Trends: Moving averages help traders determine the general market direction. If the price of a commodity remains above the moving average, it is considered part of the rising market and vice versa.
  2. Crossovers: A crossover is the most basic type of signal. It is commonly known for happening when a short-term moving average crosses a long-term moving average. Conversely, it generates a sell signal when a short-term moving average crosses over a long-term one.
  3. Support and Resistance Levels: Using moving averages, a dynamic support/resistance level is provided. This simply means that in an uptrend, the price of a commodity will find some support above the moving average line, while in a downtrend, the moving average will be a level of resistance.

Combining Moving Averages with Other Indicators

While every average can stand out on its own as an immense tool, it is often more effective when paired with other technical indicators. Traders can use an indicator such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) in conjunction with moving averages to verify signals and prevent fake signals.

In this way, using several fundamental indicators interacts in a way that gives more comprehensive information about the market and increases the precision of trade decisions.

Limitations of Moving Averages

Though moving averages are extensively used, they have a few disadvantages. The first major drawback is that it classifies them as lagging indicators; therefore, they refer to past price data so they may not react to sudden market changes. In this case, delayed signals cause traders to miss their optimal entry or exit points.

Moreover, moving averages give false signals under market consolidation, leading to prospective losses. Traders need to be cognizant of the limitations and apply moving averages with other tools and techniques of analysis.

Practical Tips for Using Moving Averages

To benefit from the full potential of the moving average in commodities trading, the following are some practical tips:

1. Adaptable time frames

You should experiment with different time frames to find the one that is most suitable for your trading style. Shorter time frames give more signals but can have a much larger number of false ones, while longer time frames produce the opposite, with fewer signals closer to the underlying trend.

2. Use more moving averages

One can use more moving averages with different time frames to tell a straightforward story of the market direction and, thus, to filter out the noise. That’s why it becomes very effective in identifying short- and long-term trends—hence, using a 10-day SMA in conjunction with a 50-day SMA.

3. Combine with Fundamental Analysis

While moving averages are suitable for technical analysis, exciting insight can be gained by combining the moving average calculations with the basic tenets of fundamental analysis. Commodity prices can be influenced by the supply and demand dynamics in a market, geopolitical events, or economic indicators.


The value of moving averages in commodities trading is their ability to aid traders in trend identification, help generates trading signals and smoothen price data. Hence, the awareness of various moving averages, how to calculate them and their potential application is an immense help to traders to do well in the business.

Of course, one must be kept aware of the limitations of the moving averages and practice using these tools assisted by other indicators and analyzing techniques to get the best results. With the right attitude and complete knowledge of moving averages, traders can navigate the complex world of commodities trading with confidence and success.

> Investing in Stocks Fractionally

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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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